When the game began in New Orleans, the Bills took possession of the ball and quickly lost it. Quarterback Thad Lewis kept the ball and swung in behind running back Fred Jackson. Saints defensive lineman Hawthorne came barreling in from the left and plowed into Lewis’s ribs forcing the ball out. New Orleans recovered at the Bills 22.
Lewis was helped off the field after medical staff looked him over, and backup Jeff Tuel began warming up on the sidelines.
The Saints missed a field goal, and Lewis came back out to the field. After a missed field goal and another possession, the Bills again lost the ball to the Saints who scored a touchdown.
The Bills went three and out, and after two false start calls on Brees, the Saints missed another field goal by Garrett Hartley. His first attempt was from 47 yards.
Lewis and the Bills offense switched to the running game, gaining first downs on catches from Stevie Johnson and runs by Tashard Choice and Fred Jackson. The saints are ranked 22nd against the run defense after falling all the way to 33rd last year.
In the red zone, Jackson was stopped after only two yards, bringing up 3rd and 2. Lewis flung the ball into the end zone to Stevie Johnson for a touchdown, tying the score at 7 all.
Stevie Smith left the field limping. It looked like he was having problems with his hip or groin.
On a sack by Junior Galette, Lewis lost the ball again but the Bills recovered. On 3rd down, Lewis escaped the pocket and completed to Scott Chandler inside the Saints’ 40 yard line. Jackson was hit in the back field to bring up 2nd and 11.
Chandler was tackled but spun out of it after bouncing off the defender for another first down. Choice rushed to the 2.
At this point in the game, the Saints had only 64 yards on offense.
On 2nd and 8, Lewis faked a hand-off and tossed down field for Chandler who was unable to get separation. Lewis was repeatedly hit, knocked down rushed and harassed. On 3rd and 8 New Orleans drew an encroachment flag for 5 yards. On 3rd and 2, Lewis passed to Chandler in the end zone. The ball was juggled and dropped with excellent defense by Chris Carr. The Bills kicked and made a field goal to go up 10-7.
On the next possession, Brees hit Ben Watson for a first down and more. On 1st and 10, Brees passed 69 yards down the sideline to Kenny Stills for a touchdown. There was only one Bill close, number 55 but fell down trying to catch Stills’ ankle. After the extra point, the score went to 14-10 Saints.
With 3:43 in the half, the Saints kicked off to the Bills for a touchback. Starting at the 20, Lewis took the snap under center but Jackson was felled in the backfield. After a Saints timeout, Lewis came out of the shotgun to complete to Robert Woods, a rookie from USC, short of the first down. After another New Orleans timeout, at 3rd and 6 Lewis passed over the middle to Johnson but was incomplete. Sproles waited for the punt at his own 36 and fair caught it at the 23 yard line.
After the two-minute warning, the Bills intercepted the ball in the end one. A flag was thrown for offsetting penalties, a face mask against the Bills on Brees and holding against the Saints, negating the play.
On 1st and 10 at the 5, with 41 seconds, Brees threw the ball away on the run, leaving 35 seconds in the half. On 2nd and 10, Brees threw complete to Jimmy Graham for a second touchdown.
The half ended with the Saints up 21-10.
Brees had 16 of 20 completions for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Lewis fumbled the ball twice and the Bills have one touchdown.
Darren Sproles ran the kick off to the 30 yard line to begin the third quarter. Bills Searcy, a blitz specialist, went down on the field after the first play but regained his feet and walked off the field under his own power.
ON 3rd and 1, Brees passed complete to Jeff Collins who gained the first down and a bit more before being pushed out of bounds. Pierre Thomas was stuffed for no gain, but Brees completed a pass to tight end Josh Hill who dived forward on the sideline but didn’t make the first down. Thomas rushed for one yard to get a new set of downs.
Brees was pursued in the backfield but flipped the ball forward to Thomas for a gain of three. On 3rd and 7 from the Bills 30, Brees was sacked back at the 43 by Kelly Williams, out of LSU.
The punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback. Jackson was hit in the backfield for a loss. On 2nd down, Jackson was again stopped in the backfield, showing the Saints adjusted to Buffalo’s running game during halftime. Lewis passed down field for Johnson but was incomplete, bringing up the punt.
Sproles again fair caught the ball at the 43, giving Brees excellent field position.
Brees passed down field to the 39 yard line to Stills. The pocket was clear and the throwing lanes were open. Brees escaped the pocket and rushed for about 3 yards to bring up 3rd down. The pass was incomplete but a flag for holding against the Bills Jerry Hughes giving the Saints the first down.
Stills got down to the 26, with Graham on the sideline. Pierre Thomas broke loose to rush down to the 13 yard line. Brees completed to Graham who stretched out for the touchdown with a Bills defender hanging onto his ankles. After review, the ruling was confirmed, bring up the extra point and putting the score to 28-10.
Stevie Johnson seemed to be limping more and more but remained on the field. Lewis faked a hand-off and threw the ball down field to Scott Chandler in the end zone. The play was negated by offensive holding. Lewis passed to Chandler for a first down at the 45 yard line.
Lewis stepped up the pocket but threw incomplete. Johnson finally came off the field after pulling lame on the run. Lewis was hit on the throw, drawing a flag for roughing the passer on Corey White. On 1st from Saints 39, Lewis hit Marquis Goldston for the first down.
New Orleans called time out with 54 seconds in the quarter. Lewis scrambled for five but was hit on the next throw. The Saints got another roughing the passer call, giving a first down. Corey White again hit Lewis in the ear-hole with his helmet.
On 1st and goal, the Bills rushed for 2 to end the quarter. The Saints maintained their lead 28-10.
From the two, Jackson forced his way into the end zone but there was no call for the touchdown. Coach Doug Marrone threw his challenge flag to have the play reviewed. In order to reverse the call of a non-score, referee Terry McCauley had to see conclusive evidence that the football broke the plane of the end zone. After review, the ruling stood, charging Buffalo with a timeout.
On 3rd and goal, Jackson again rushed and got fully into the end zone for the touchdown. Instead of going for two, the Bills kicked the extra point to bring the score to 28-17 with 14:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Brees was almost intercepted by Robey. A flag was thrown but no call was made against Gilmore who grabbed Robert Meachem on the run down field. Brees threw a slant to the 29 for first down then Thomas made it to the 30 for a first down. Marrone challenged the play again, believing the play was stopped short of the first down. After review, the ruling was upheld costing Buffalo their second timeout and expending their final challenge.
Marrone is now 0-3 on challenges. Brees was chased up into the pocket and sacked at the line of scrimmage. On 3rd and nine, his pass was broken up by Nickell Robey. New Orleans punt was taken at the 20 but dropped and recovered by the Bills.
Stevie Johnson, still limping and hopping, caught Lewis’ first down pass. He left the field while medical staff checked on Tashard Chioce who was shaken up on the field. Lewis over threw Marquis Goodwin who was wide open without a saint around him for several yards. Next pass was intercepted by Keenan Lewis who ran it back to the 45 yard line. K. Lewis was tackled at the end of his run and went out with a possible injury. The Bills are -3 on turnovers in this game.
Brees had to throw the ball away under pressure to bring up 2nd down. Thomas rushed and spun to the Buffalo 46. Thomas was smothered behind the line of scrimmage to bring up 3rd and 20. Brees scrambled from the pocket and tossed the ball down to the end zone, finding Stills, covered by Robey for the touchdown.
Graham and Vaccaro collided on the sideline and dropped to the field. After a few dazed moments, both were able to get up and walk off under their own power. The Saints took over on downs after Lewis’ fourth down pass was popped up in the air and fell incomplete.
On Saints’ 3rd and 6, Brees found Ben Watson at the 44 yard line, bringing up the two-minute warning. The Saints knelt down to end the game with a score of 35-17.
The turnover battle was won handily by the Saints in this game. After halftime, New Orleans more actively defended the Bills’ running scheme. Despite excellent pass protection and numerous long passes for completion, Lewis and the Bills simply could not overcome the skill and experience –and possibly the noise- that any team faces when playing the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.
By: Brandi Tasby